‘Households with a member affected by melancholy exhibit placing variations in procuring conduct’

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Does Depression Affect Your Shopping Habits?

Depressed households are “noticeably different” from other households, concludes a new working paper from research fellows from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Chicago.

“They spend less overall, visit grocery stores and stores less often, and spend a smaller proportion of their baskets on fresh produce and alcohol, but a larger proportion on tobacco,” said the researchers. “They spend similar shares on unhealthy foods like cakes, sweets and salty snacks.” The paper was distributed on Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“They spend similar shares on unhealthy foods like cakes, sweets and salty snacks.”

Using a survey panel of 112,736 households that linked shopping behavior to individual medical information, the authors – Katherine Meckel of UC San Diego and Bradley Shapiro of the University of Chicago – say they had a “robust” cross-sectional relationship between depression and shopping.

But there are factors that are difficult to explain in this data. For example, a person may begin to have symptoms of depression but not be sure or even aware that they have depression until their shopping and consumption habits have already changed, Meckel and Shapiro said.

“Tobacco consumption may lead to self-medication,” they wrote. Depression is classified as a mood disorder and can manifest itself as sadness or even anger. Shopping, say some mental health and addiction experts, can provide a temporary escape from such feelings.

Impulse shopping

Previous research, published in 2017 in the Journal of Consumer Research on the relationship between consumerism and emotional health, found that impulse buyers tend to purchase certain products, but not the kind of designer splurges that are often portrayed in the media .

“Consumers who experience a loss of control are more likely to buy functional products like screwdrivers and dishwashing detergent, as these are typically associated with problem solving, which can improve people’s sense of control,” the researchers say.

“Consumers who lose control are more likely to buy products that are more functional.”

In one study, participants were asked to recall a situation where they felt a high sense of control after shopping. They bought more practical products like cooking ingredients and household cleaners. One theory: it could be that they are well-known household brands and they just remind them of their childhood.

The best way to avoid over-spending due to depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues is to stick to shopping lists and make buying as difficult as possible. That includes never storing your credit card information on Amazon AMZN, -0.49% or eBay EBAY, -2.16%, where it’s easy to buy shoes or gadgets that you will never use.

Also, while shopping online, don’t create a store account, delete apps like Seamless and eat leftovers or cook at home instead; and get in the habit of leaving home sooner than using Uber, -1.36%.
Unsubscribe from retailers’ email lists, use cash, and turn off notifications on your phone that offer specials.

In other words, automate your savings, not your expenses.

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